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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Date : 07-Mar-2019

Gastrointestinal bleeding is not a disease but a symptom of any disorder in the digestive tract. It is also known as gastrointestinal hemorrhage. The bleeding can happen from anywhere on the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth (where it starts) to the anus (where it ends). The bleeding can range from mild to severe depending on the disease that one is affected. To locate and detect the actual cause of the bleeding, sophisticated imaging technology is used.


Symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding depend on the location of the bleeding and can be either obvious or hidden.

When it’s obvious, blood might show up in vomit or stool. Whereas fainting, lightheadedness, difficulty in breathing, or chest pain can be some of the disguised symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Types of gastrointestinal bleeding:

  • Upper GI bleeding: This can be caused by a peptic ulcer, tears in the lining of the esophagus, enlarged veins or inflammation in the esophagus.
  • Lower GI bleeding: This can be caused by diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease, tumors in the digestive tract, swollen veins in the anus or hemorrhoids, anal fissures, proctitis and many more.

Gastrointestinal bleeding if not treated can cause some complications including shock, anemia, and even death in some severe cases. Diagnosis of the cause of GI bleeding and its treatment must be done as soon as any sign or symptom appears.

Following are the tests that can be conducted:

  • Blood tests: This is done to check platelet counts, liver functions and the rate at which the blood clots.
  • Nasogastric lavage: This s done to check the reasons behind occult bleeding.
  • Upper Endoscopy: In this test, a long tube with a small camera attached to it is passed through the mouth to examine the upper gastrointestinal tract.
  • Colonoscopy: In this test, a long tube with a camera attached to it is passed through the rectum to examine the rectum along with the large intestine.
  • Capsule Endoscopy: This is used to check the small intestine. The patient is given a capsule with a tiny camera inside it. This capsule travels through the digestive tract taking thousands of snaps, allowing the doctor to see inside the small intestine.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: In this process, a tube with a camera and light is placed in the rectum to inspect the rectum and the large intestine.
  • Imaging tests: Various other imaging tests are used to find the source of bleeding.


Often it is seen that GI bleeding stops on its own and doesn’t require treatment. If one experiences prolonged bleeding, the tests are further done and the correct medicines are prescribed.

All patients who had vomited blood or spat blood should definitely see a doctor and the cause requires investigation. The cause quite often is a simple one but at times can be an ominous one too. In the case of an ominous cause, the patient can bleed again needing urgent hospitalization. While a majority of patients can get their bleeding settled by gastroenterologists with the help of an endoscope, some patients with massive bleeding will require a surgical operation. Very few surgeons are trained in treating this group of patients. So a well trained GI surgeon with experience in treating Gastro-intestinal bleeding is required to save these patients who will usually be young and do not harbor any cancer.

Prevent GI bleeding:

One can prevent gastrointestinal bleeding by:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting the use of anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Maintaining a proper diet
  • Limiting the use of alcohol

Gastrointestinal Bleeding Surgery In India

Treat all your gastrointestinal problems at SIMS Chennai under the supervision of Dr. Patta Radhakrishna. He is a renowned Laparoscopic Surgeon and Surgical Gastroenterologist and is the chief of Surgical Gastroenterology and Laparoscopic Surgery at SIMS. 

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Dr.Patta Radhakrishna is a renowned Surgical Gastroenterologist and a Laparoscopic Surgeon in Chennai.

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